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Muddy riding area- suggestions?

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  • Muddy riding area- suggestions?

    Hubby and I bought a small farm in August and the riding area is a large portion (roughly 100'x120'?) of the side yard that is (was) grass. As you would expect, there is now a nice wide dirt track where my boarder and I ride the most- I try to vary it up, so it is now about 50/50 "grass" and dirt- which obviously when wet, turns to slick mud. Turning the area into a real riding ring with proper gravel, stone dust, etc. is just not an option (no $ left!).

    Is there anything we can put in the slicker areas to improve it? Would putting sand down help? We're on a very low budget, as all of our money has gone into other projects. I'm not planning on doing anything this winter, but just thinking about the spring with all of the mud- riding is going to be very messy and difficult, and I think the entire area is just going to get torn up. It's mostly level, and then a bit beyond where I ride it slopes downward- that area has much nicer grass but is also very soft ground where even walking leaves deep hoof indents, even when its dry. I would love to hear what other people have done!

  • #2
    Sorry, I don't think there's a no-cost fix for you. My best guess is that just adding sand on top won't work well because it will mix with the soft mud. You've got to get that off first.

    Four years ago when we moved here, we started a 'ring' on the flattest part of our pasture. Previously we'd always lived where you could do that because it was sandy underneath (coastal GA, NJ...) but here there's slick muddy clay. Trotting wasn't even possible at times.

    Three years ago I ended up putting in the cheapest (what I call "redneck ring") possible. I used a box blade to scrape the muddy clay off the top until I got to a hard clay base, then had about 65-70 tons of screenings (stone dust) put on top. DH leveled that off, and that's the ring. It's not big and fancy, yes there are a few spots where you can tell I'm getting a little mixing of dirt with screenings, but it'll do. Total cost for us was just under $1K. I had plans to add sand on top but money has been going in other directions right now so the ring - since it's totally usable - is low prioritiy to improve.


    • #3
      you might try lime, we used it in the miltary and on construction sites

      "Lime can be used to treat soils to varying degrees, depending upon the objective. The least amount of treatment is used to dry and temporarily modify soils. Such treatment produces a working platform for construction or temporary roads"



      but you should have a big freeze soon anyway....but come Spring, you may have hell


      • #4
        Unfortunately, as long as there are organics in place (topsoil, roots, grass, etc.) you'll continue to have a mud issue. Yes, you can periodically sprinkle something like stone dust and/or sand in your track, but it's going to be absorbed down into the muck each time it gets re-wet. Natuer of the beast...


        • #5
          When it's muddy, rather than tearing it up more, could you do some road rides?
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


          • #6
            That's what I do--hit the road. Aside from saving my riding areas, I just hate the feeling of riding in greasy/slippy footing. Both my horse and I start moving in careful/defensive ways so it ends up being a crappy ride anyway.


            • #7
              I'm on the roadside now too.

              The "arena" which like yours is basically a paddock with a track, and the open fields are both much too deep to be of any use. Plus, I don't wan't to completely destroy my riding areas for next year.


              • Original Poster

                Unfortunately hitting the road here isn't an option- I live on a very busy and windy paved road, riding down it would be suicide. No trails nearby and I don't have a trailer..boo. I am looking forward to the ground freezing. Hopefully I'll be able to get a trailer in the relative near future (next year). Maybe in another year or 2 we can invest in better footing as well. The good thing is the area does get a lot of sun, so it dries relatively quickly when it does get wet. Thanks for the tip and suggestions- would love to hear more from people on low budgets. The riding area is just used by me and my boarder, so it doesn't need to hold up to too much traffic fortunately.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by oldpony66 View Post
                  Three years ago I ended up putting in the cheapest (what I call "redneck ring") possible. I used a box blade to scrape the muddy clay off the top until I got to a hard clay base, then had about 65-70 tons of screenings (stone dust) put on top. DH leveled that off, and that's the ring. It's not big and fancy, yes there are a few spots where you can tell I'm getting a little mixing of dirt with screenings, but it'll do. Total cost for us was just under $1K. I had plans to add sand on top but money has been going in other directions right now so the ring - since it's totally usable - is low prioritiy to improve.
                  Believe it or not, one of the best rings I ever rode in was made this way! They added stone dust each year for the first 5 years, then just as needed to keep the footing decent. The year that I was there, was year number 7 of their "redneck" ring. They had added a little bit of sand to the stone dust right before I moved in. Then they added a very small amount of fine rubber that summer. That footing was great for lower level dressage and the jumping up to 3'6" that I did. The soil in our area of PA is clay. When we get our own farm, this is probably what we are going to do.

                  OP, IIWY, I'd scrape the soft mud off (you CAN use a front end loader on a tractor if you don't have access to a box blade), and put down an inch or two of stone dust. You'll have to top it off eventually, but I would bet you'll get at least a years worth of riding before you have to add more stone.



                  • #10
                    I'm in the mud situation here too, 90% of the year. 10% is cement. I have one infirmary paddock, 30x30, which has had its operation to become good ground. All done by our Kubota tractor and a strong back. First, scraped away all the topsoil/gunk. Then put down gravel. Then put down landscape cloth. Then put down stone dust. Voila`!! It is 2 years old and still perfect. I am D.Y.I.N.G. to do a riding area...Sheila and OldPony, you give me hope...Oh, and OP, do not put sand on top of the mud, you'll get mashed potatoes...
                    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                    • #11
                      This works really well at controlling mud.

                      It is somewhat expensive per bag, but I have found that a little goes a long way.

                      One place I ride has a grass ring. The outer track is no longer grass. It had a couple of slick, muddy spots. The owner put down a couple of scoops (3-4 cups) of dry stall over those locations and I rode over them. They were no longer slick.

                      If it's just the outer track it may be within your budget.